HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The head of the Area Development Partnership says the Hattiesburg-area economy is wasting no time recovering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chad Newell, president of the ADP, says the diversity of the Greater Hattiesburg area economy is helping it make a solid comeback.
“While this won’t be a quick fix, a quick recovery, we will certainly recover faster than most metro areas around the region. And we’re really already seeing it,” Newell said.
Just last week, Hattiesburg’s Dirt Cheap (Channel Control Merchants, LLC) announced it would add 100 new employees to its distribution centers.
Newell says other companies and organizations are also hiring.
“For example, Forrest General Hospital and other healthcare employers are hiring nurses, we’ve got Kohler on the manufacturing front making additional hires and those are just a couple of local companies,” he said.
Newell said there are other indications that the economy is rebounding.
“When you look at housing sales for the first six months of 2020, they are up over the first six months of 2019,” Newell said. “With low mortgage rates, people are buying and selling homes.”
And he says the local leisure and hospitality industry, hard hit by the pandemic, is also recovering.
“Now, with the restaurants fully opening back up, they are going to recover, those jobs will come back,” Newell said.
“The hotel occupancy rates are beginning to increase.”
Newell also said new federal and state programs to help businesses during the pandemic have saved many local jobs.
He says, in particular, the federal Paycheck Protection Program has saved about 22,000 jobs in the Pine Belt.